Similar to other parts of the Amhara region in Ethiopia, farmers in Libo Kemkem district struggle to make ends meet partly due to a lack of habit around savings. The seasonal nature of income, added to local perceptions of saving money has hindered farmers' economic wellbeing and resistance to economic or agricultural shocks.
42-year old Bilew is a farmer who lives in the Fogera district of Shaga kebele, Ethiopia, in a village called "Guaya-midere". He is married with 4 children and owns 1.5 ha of land which he inherited from his family. He has been cultivating rice since 1999 and in addition to his own land, Bilew sometimes leases 0.25-0.5 ha of land for cultivation of crops like rice, rough pea, sunflower, chick peas, and teff.
Across Ethiopia, the role of head of the house goes to a man that will be responsible for the family's livelihood. Despite this tradition, the Southern Nation Nationalities People's Region, specifically the Gamo Gofa zone, has seen an alarming trend of single-parent households on the rise. Many husbands abandon their families as economic burdens become too much to handle. As a result, the women are forced to support their families without any assistance. This is the story of a woman in a similar position who was able to make a difference through determination and a strong spirit.
"My name is Tsehay Alemayehu and I have six children. Since the age of three, I have been taking medication for my illness. Despite my physical problems, I am determined to leave my children with something that can change their lives. I joined E-FACE under the VSLA financial service intervention and it has changed my life for the better. It has been one year since I became a member and I cannot imagine life without this service.
"My name is Shacha Gufa and I am an E-Face MEDA client. I live in the Sodo Town woreda of Hibret Kebele with my wife and five children. With the exception of my eight-month old baby, all my children attend school. My wife works outside of the home as a coffee trader to help supplement our family's income. To help improve my family's financial situation, I joined E-FACE in 2012 as one of the first project clients. Under this project, I became a member of my kebele's Village Savings Lending Association (VSLA). It has been almost one year since the inception of my VSLA group and my life has changed drastically since that time. Being a part of the VSLA allowed me to start saving my money and it gave me access to services that helped me improve my income. Most importantly, my VSLA group brought me together with a network of people who are eager to better our community.
Assefa Abera, a 50 year old male weaver from Chencha, is married and has three children, aged 3 , 5 and 12. He has been weaving for 35 years and he farms different crops to help supplement his income in order to send his children to school. Before the MEDA EDGET project, Assefa had no history of saving.
Nidia de Carmen Yescas, her husband and her five grown children live on a farm alongside a highway on the outskirts of Rivas, which is located in southwestern Nicaragua.
Nidia and her family had problems with disease in their plantains, which meant little income due to poor quality. The plantain had no resistance to the black weevil and black sigatoka disease.
Domingo Antonio Tigerino Acevedo and his family live in the Potasi neighborhood of Rivas, located in southwestern Nicaragua. He has 9.1 hectares of plantains, with one hectare consisting of 100 plantain in-vitro plants, which are seed tissues that have been combined from different plantain seedlings in the lab from the International School of Agriculture and Cattle (EIAG) to fight diseases and improve quality of plants.
"My name is Fatima and I am 28 years old. I am married and have three children and live in Midelt, a small town in central Morocco.
"I live with my family in a household composed of eight family members. In order to meet the needs of my family, I decided to create a small business with my sister-in-law.
Youness Ouzzine, 28, studied in a vocational training center after high school and got his diploma as a drafting technician for construction. Youness lives with his brother and mother in a village called Ain Cheggag, near Fes.
"The three-day training in financial education and entrepreneurship offered by ARDI in partnership with MEDA Maroc was really important to all the youth who benefited from it in this rural, neglected village. The training helped me to learn about budgeting, saving and how to start my own business," said Youness.
Now in his late twenties, Abderrazak Elghoudani left high school in order to work and help his family. He lives with his parents and his wife in Biougra, a village near Agadir in southern Morocco. When he was interviewed, Abderrazak and his wife were expecting a baby.
Nezha Bensaki, 27, left secondary school in order to help her family. She lives with her mother and five siblings."The idea of opening a hair salon started when my mother fell ill and we find ourselves with no one to take care of us financially. I was obliged to leave high school and went to study hairdressing in Meknes (a big city in eastern-central Morocco) for 2 years. After the training, I worked at home and started to be known in Boumia (remote village in the eastern Morocco)."
In the small village of Goima, 30 km from the nearest town, in Dodoma Region, Mr. Abtwalib R. Dinya serves the many villagers that enter his small shop. As one of the few retailers in his village, Mr. Dinya stocks his shop with everything from toys for kids, to salt and sugar, to lotion and soap. While these goods do provide for the needs of his community, what he enjoys most of all is his involvement in the Tanzania National Voucher Scheme (TNVS) through his sales of LLIN bed nets.
At the time of meeting Mr. Dinya, he explained that he had owned his shop for many years however his involvement in the Hati Punguzo program began in 2007 when he signed up to be a TNVS retailer. Mr. Dinya expressed that the net business was extremely motivating for him because he felt he was able to support and give back to his community in a meaningful way.
As early as 7am on any given day, Terry Simaanya can be found at his red shipping container located at the bustling mini-bus station and market of Chipata compound in Lusaka. The container is overflowing with crates of Coke, Fanta and Sprite.
With a disarming smile that easily compensates for the bleak weather outside, he hastily organizes his micro-distribution centre (MDC) to ensure easy visibility of the wide assortment of Coca Cola products received the previous evening.
In the Nyumba Yanga community on the other side of the city, 55 year old Godfrey Mulenga could never be more proud of his association with the Coca Cola brand.
Like many other distributers, he starts his day early and often serves his customers until it gets dark. "The local bottling company has given me a good life," he says, heaping praises at the local Coke supplier. "You can say I am where I am today because of Coca Cola. I am happy to have built something from the ground up which has helped me to educate my children. Right now I have a son in university and I hope that he will come out and help me to make this bigger" he says, gesturing a reverse hug. He notes that two of his other children have also completed tertiary education, both benefitting from the proceeds of his micro distribution centre (MDC) business.
Albert Chilale, a 60-year-old cotton farmer, lives with his wife Ronna Timona in and his family of 16 Choma, Zambia.
Last year, the couple grew 4 hectares of cotton on their 12 hectares of total land that the family has under cultivation. Albert embraced the offer of receiving his cotton payment in vouchers from Dunavant, a cotton buying company in Zambia.
This opportunity was made possible for Albert with the help of MEDA's Techno-Links project partner Zoona, a company that offers an electronic mobile phone-based voucher program for credit, savings, money transfers and payment services in four rural communities in Zambia.